“I scarcely think there is a greater sin, Lucy,” he said solemnly, than that of the woman who marries a man she does not love. You are so precious to me, my beloved, that deeply as my heart is set on this, and bitter as the mere thought of disappointment is to me, I would not have you commit such a sin for any happiness of mine. If my happiness could be achieved by such an act, which it could not – which it never could,” he repeated earnestly, “nothing but misery can result from a marriage dictated by any motive but truth and love” (Braddon 15).
Upon first glance, Sir Michael Audley’s proposal to Miss Lucy Graham seemed rather romantic and full of a sort of innocence and vulnerability that I hadn’t expected. Being a man and a member of the aristocracy, it surprised me that Sir Michael would give any sort of thought to Lucy’s feelings. I couldn’t believe that he would value the desires of her heart over what would be best for him. However, as I took a closer look at the aforementioned passage and those that surrounded it, I found myself questioning my initial conclusions.
Perhaps the proposal wasn’t as straightforward and romantic as I first thought. While many women would have been overjoyed by the notion of Sir Michael’s proposal, this was not the case for Lucy. On the contrary, she was extremely upset and begged Sir Michael not to ask too much of her. She claimed that she could not “be blind to the advantages of such an alliance” (Braddon 16). It was with this statement that I began to wonder about Lucy’s motivations. Was her demure nature and sugary sweetness simply a façade put in place to distract those she met from knowing about her past and the dark shadows that lurked within it?
We are told that, “Beyond her agitation and her passionate vehemence, there was an undefined something in her manner which filled the baronet with a vague alarm” (Braddon 16). I think this is important to make note of because it alludes to the fact that Lucy might not be as mentally sound as some people believe. I also find it intriguing that Sir Michael didn’t heed his own warning about love and marriage. I think he’ll come to regret this decision later, as he realizes that one moment of bliss can’t justify years of misery.